The most sustainable city of the world is in Brazil. Curitiba, which is located at the southern part of Brazil with a population of 1.6 million in an area of 432 sq. km, was awarded the Global Sustainable City Award 2010. You never imagine how clean and green the Brazilian city is. I did a study tour there years ago.
To describe Curitiba, it has to start with its renowned transit-oriented development strategies.
The structural-core axes with the integrated transportation network facilitate sustainable linear growth of the city. The evolution of the urban form has followed the extension of the structural-core axis, which comprises high-rise mixed-use development and mass transit (exclusively for an express bus-way) along previously planned avenues. The availability of mass transit system, job opportunities for the commercial development and other supporting facilities along the structural axis effectively motivate people to work and live in the newly developed areas.
In particular, a comprehensive network of bus-ways plays an important role for stages of urban growth. The hierarchical bus lanes effectively weave the clustered developments along different structural-core axes. Over 75% of all passengers’ trips a day are by bus. Bus stops are located within 500m walking distance of residences.
Down to the district level, the trinary road system shows the compatibility between land use, public transport and traffic system. The central road consists of an express bus-way and high rises with retails, offices and housing development. This composition forms the core structural sector stretching away from the downtown area. Along the left and right edges of the structural sector, there are two one-way roads for direct-line routes running in and out of the town respectively. The main residential zones with declining density increase the distance from the two one-way streets.
“Land uses that benefit from exposure and busy traffic – namely, retail shops and consumer services – occupy the ground and first floors of the auxiliary lanes and one-way couplets. High volume roads are buffered from low-density residential neighborhoods by higher-rise building. Low-volume local streets help preserve a sense of place attachment to neighborhood.” (Cervero, 1998)
Flexible transfer of land use is advocated to preserve historic districts. The policy incentives land owners to transfer the development ratio of a site with historic buildings onto the top of other buildings or on another land.
Open University of Environment (OUE) is the first adaptive reuse of an abandoned quarry project in Brazil. OUE is also the first university to study the development of environmental preservation in the world.
Don’t miss this sustainable city if you have a chance to visit Brazil.